Disability Royal Commission
Sunnyfield Statement regarding the Disability Royal Commission
Sunnyfield Disability Services supports the important work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and welcomes the opportunity for people with disability, their families and those who work in the sector to share their experiences.
The Board acknowledges the failings at Sunnyfield that were the subject of the Royal Commission and unreservedly apologises for the hurt and harm caused to our clients and their families.
We accept Sunnyfield did not have the right systems and processes in place or appropriate oversight of what was happening in the shared independent living home in Western Sydney that led to that hurt and harm.
As soon as the Board became aware of the issues at the home, we took immediate action. This included suspending and, shortly after, terminating, the employment of the two perpetrators, as well as notifying police and regulatory authorities, in order to protect our clients affected.
The Board also accepts that we were slow in apologising to our clients and their families, and apologise for statements made by various Sunnyfield representatives to the Royal Commission that suggested anything other than the fact that we do accept responsibility and accountability for the failings identified.
Over the past three years we have taken many steps to improve our client safe-guarding, culture and performance. A detailed description of steps taken to improve safeguarding, reporting, governance, quality control and workforce can be found here.
In October 2022, Sunnyfield appointed Andrew Hyland as Chief Executive Officer. Andrew has significant experience in the sector and is an advocate for human rights for people with a disability, and for promoting jobs in disability support services as worthwhile, professional careers.
The Board commenced a structured program of site visits in 2021 (which was interrupted by COVID) where directors visited over 40 sites and interacted with a wide range of clients, family members and staff. This provided the Board with real insights into clients’ requirements and their experience of service provision. The Board continues this approach, which is supported by the new CEO whom makes regular service visits as part of his weekly routine. In his first 100 days, Andrew visited more than 30 services and met more than 100 clients, family and staff.
The Board, Andrew and the executive leadership team/senior team are committed to further improving the services we provide our clients and families. Our priorities are:
- To ensure the voice of our clients are included at all levels of the organisation through an inclusive governance model
- To expand the diversity and contribution from people with lived experience with disability in our governance, particularly on the Board
- To work more closely with client advocates to ensure client rights are upheld
- To be more discerning in recruitment and to continuously upskill our workforce
- To ensure our culture is open, transparent and committed to continuous improvement based on the changing needs of our clients.
We know there is more work to do. We are committed to addressing the learnings and recommendations identified by the Royal Commission.